Monthly Archives: March 2012

Dudes say the darndest things #4

“This is not just drunk me talking…but you’re very attractive.  Do you want to come inside for a little while?”

I’m so flattered!  (Not.)

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Splittings

In honor of the life of such an important poet, here’s my favorite of Adrienne Rich’s many poems. Those last lines are a good mantra for any single lady (or gentleman, for that matter!), I think.

Splittings

1.
My body opens over San Francisco like the day-
light raining down          each pore crying the change of light
I am not with her          I have been waking off and on
all night to that pain          not simply absence but
the presence of the past          destructive
to living here and now                      Yet if I could instruct
myself, if we could learn to learn from pain
even as it grasps us          if the mind, the mind that lives
in this body could refuse          to let itself be crushed
in that grasp          it would loosen          Pain would have to stand
off from me and listen          its dark breath still on me
but the mind could begin to speak to pain
and pain would have to answer:
We are older now
we have met before          these are my hands before your eyes
my figure blotting out          all that is not mine
I am the pain of division          creator of divisions
it is I who blot your lover from you
and not the time-zones or the miles
It is not separation calls me forth          but I
who am separation          And remember
I have no existence          apart from you

2.
I believe I am choosing something now
not to suffer uselessly          yet still to feel
Does the infant memorize the body of the mother
and create her in absence?          or simply cry
primordial loneliness?          does the bed of the stream
once diverted          mourning          remember the wetness?
But we, we live so much in these
configurations of the past          I choose
to separate her          from my past we have not shared
I choose not to suffer uselessly
to detect primordial pain as it stalks toward me
flashing its bleak torch in my eyes          blotting out
her particular being          the details of her love
I will not be divided          from her or from myself
by myths of separation
while her mind and body in Manhattan are more with me
than the smell of eucalyptus coolly burning          on these hills

3.
The world tells me I am its creature
I am raked by eyes          brushed by hands
I want to crawl into her for refuge          lay my head
in the space          between her breast and shoulder
abnegating power for love
as women have done          or hiding
from power in her love          like a man
I refuse these givens          the splitting
between love and action          I am choosing
not to suffer uselessly          and not to use her
I choose to love          this time          for once
with all my intelligence.

—Adrienne Rich, The Dream of a Common Language

A love letter

Here’s another little gem I found in one of my old journals, not written by me but for me, from a boy in my fourth grade class.  He left it inside my desk, and when I found it I tucked it into the breast pocket of my blue button-down shirt (part of the school uniform) for safekeeping.  I spilled gravy on it at lunch.

The question mark at the end is my favorite part.

I didn’t have a crush on this boy.  He once bought me a single rose and I gave it back.  (I know, what was I thinking?  But hey, I was ten.)

These days, though, what I’d give for someone to write me a note like this one!

It’s in my genes, I swear…

Each time I come home I feel thankful that I was never so desirable to the male population in high school to have the unpleasant pleasure of trying to squeeze into my childhood bed with a boy.  Even though I spent practically every night of my adolescence wishing that there was someone else under the covers with me, I now see that what I then believed to be misfortune actually made for many a good night’s sleep.  I can’t imagine sharing my tiny twin with anyone, let alone someone I’d want to look good for in the morning.  Those twin XL beds in college were bad enough: after all, how many mornings did I wake up pressed against the cinder block wall while a hulk of a baseball player hogged all but my small sliver of mattress?

I love being home.  I love that my mom does my laundry for me, and that the refrigerator is always fully stocked, and that there’s no danger of running out of toilet paper because my roommates and I forgot to buy more the last time we went to the market.  But there’s also something odd about being back in a neighborhood filled with the sites of my former pining.  The guy who gave me my first kiss lives (or used to) only a few blocks away.  I’ll never pass his street without remembering that this is the very place where I swapped spit with someone after so many years of waiting and wondering when it would happen.  There’s the Starbucks where I went on my first date, the playground where I used to chase my kindergarten crush, and the hot neighbor dad who I totally thought wanted me when I was seventeen.

There are also the dozens of notebooks where I’ve faithfully recorded my romantic interests and pursuits since age eight, selections of which I will now reproduce for your entertainment.  In second grade, I was enthralled with “Jared” (all names have been changed).

I used to not be friends with Jared I was just thinking he was cute.  But now we have started a friendship.  P.S. Jared is still cute.  I wonder if he is the one who I will marry.

***

It is almost summer.  Me and Jared plan to call each other.

***

It is summer now.  I plan to call Jared tonight.

 

At this point in my journal I entered the third grade and abandoned Jared—who knows what happened on that phone call—in favor of another boy, Aidan.

Aidan is so cute and I mean “really” cute.  I fall head over heels for him.  I’m not sure this one is a crush.  Aidan is really my kind of guy.  He gets in trouble a lot but he is so so nice. 

Hair: Dirty blonde.

Face: Cute, non-freckel, smiles a lot.  [While my inability to spell “freckled” concerns me, my concurrent knowledge that “a lot” is two words kind of makes up for it. –Ed.]

Skin: Fair white.

Good Parts: Likes sports, is nice, tells jokes.

Bad Parts: Gets in trouble.

I wish he would try harder at things.

A few pages later I had taped in the valentines Aidan gave me, store-bought ones with animals wearing sunglasses on them.  One says “You are a cool cat,” and the other “You are a hot dog.”

It’s funny how little things change.  I haven’t gotten a paper valentine from a guy since elementary school, but I still meticulously record text message exchanges in my journal, I still find myself making the first move a lot of the time (like calling Jared), and I still end up dating dudes who are wrong for me (“I wish he would try harder”?  I didn’t know at nine years old that this would be just the first of many, many times I would say these words).

It’s kind of depressing that I haven’t made much progress over a decade later.

Then again, it also makes me really glad.  Is it weird that I’ve always been so obsessed with finding the right guy?  Maybe.  But I’ve been lucky enough to grow up surrounded by happy couples who have modeled love at its deepest, strongest, most honest.  My greatest hope is to find a love like the one my parents have, like the one my grandparents have (they met when my grandmother was 16 and my grandfather was 20, and have been together for over 60 years).  I have seen firsthand that love like this exists, that it is not only something that happens in books or movies.  In short, I’ve been brought up to be boy crazy.

I know, I know, I’m getting a little sentimental, so I’ll leave it at that.  It must be something in the water here.  But, er (one more!)—there’s no place like home.

An addendum to my last post

Yesterday I wrote that my current dating philosophy can be summed up by Kelly Clarkson’s song “I Do Not Hook Up,” and as soon as I posted I started thinking about what that actually means.  Everyone and his or her mother has a personal definition of “hooking up” (though I don’t really want to know what your mother’s is).  While some people define hooking up as sex, others, like me, define it as a little harmless making out, probably some nudity, and maybe a night spent (sleeping! or pretending to) at the other person’s place.  So when I say that “I Do Not Hook Up” is a song I identify with at the moment, don’t worry—I’m not implying that I’ve taken a vow of abstinence or anything (no hate to anyone who has, of course).

What I am implying is that I’m in the market for something more than your typical meet-at-a-party-he’s-kinda-cute-oh-well-why-not tryst.  As you probably already know from the name of this blog, I’m in the market for a boyfriend.  I’m sick of hooking up with random dudes who I have no feelings for just for the hell of it.  I hate how I always end up developing feelings for said random dudes anyway, and how those feelings are never reciprocated.  I want something steady and long-term; I want someone who I can introduce to my parents—someone who they’ll actually like, too.

But—like everything related to dating, apparently—it’s hard.  I keep thinking about my favorite cheesy movie, Keeping the Faith, the scene where the Anna (Jenna Elfman) and Brian (Edward Norton) are in Central Park and she asks him how he stays celibate as a priest (seriously, watch it).  “There comes a point,” she tells him, “when I just crave contact.  You know?  Like I wanna touch someone and be touched.”  Not the most eloquent of lines, sure, but I think she’s onto something.  There are so many things I love about being single—not least the roominess of an unshared bed—but it also becomes incredibly frustrating very quickly.  As much as I want to hold out for the right guy, to make my hook ups meaningful instead of mediocre, the waiting is not fun in the slightest.

Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration—dating is, or at least can be, fun, and playing the field certainly has its benefits.  You get to know yourself and what you’re looking for really damn well, for one thing.  But there inevitably comes that point when I find myself, like Anna, just craving contact with another person.  And what to do when that mood strikes?  Over the past few years my theory has generally been to go with it, but more recently it’s gotten old.  I’ve realized that as great as the hook ups can be, hooking up in general is not something I find satisfying.  So I’ve resolved not to do it before getting to know the person.

Sometimes I falter, but other times resisting the urge can lead to something a little closer to what I’m looking for.  A few months ago, for example, I was leaving a bar with a guy I’d been flirting with all night.  He put his arm around me and started walking me home, but before we got there I stopped and said point-blank: “I don’t think we should hook up right now, but I do think you’re really cool and that we should hang out sometime in the daylight.”  He was totally okay with this, gave me his number, and we did hang out—the next day I asked him to coffee.  He didn’t end up being quite as cool as I’d thought, but at least I knew that before anything went down.

Rock on, Kelly Clarkson.

Dating philosophies (acoustic version)

Please excuse the short posts this week; as much as I wish I could devote myself entirely to this blog, the sad fact is that I am still a student (and will soon be a grad student) and it is midterms week.  In the meantime, here is a musical summary about my dating life at the moment…

How I feel now:

“I Do Not Hook Up”—Kelly Clarkson
Oh no, I do not hook up, up
I go slow
So if you want me
I don’t come cheap
Keep you hand in my hand
And your heart on your sleeve

How I wish I felt:

“Some Boys”—Dom
Some boys wanna hold my hand
Some boys wanna be my boyfriend
Other boys try to get in my pants
All they want is a one night stand

But it doesn’t really matter
’Cause there are just other boys

The bottom line:

“I Need a Lover”—John Mellencamp
I need a lover that won’t drive me crazy
I need a lover that won’t drive me crazy
I need a lover that won’t drive me crazy

Attack of the boyfiend

Sometimes when I log in on the WordPress homepage I accidentally type in the username “dudewheresmyboyfiend.”

I have a hunch that there is a very important subliminal meaning to this, most likely that I’ve dated enough disappointing dudes to subconsciously associate the boyfriend with something you’d meet in the third circle of hell, the smooth-talking, never-calling, loud-snoring boyfiend.

According to Urban Dictionary, the word boyfiend has two meanings, the second of which is spot-on:

Male who refuses to accept the idea that he could/should play the role of “boyfriend” in a relationship.  This refusal commonly results in the male exhibiting negative behaviors.  These behaviors may include lying, cheating, or refusal to “grow up” and accept the basic responsibilities involved with being in a relationship.  Boyfiends are quite often immature and narcissistic men.

Hmmm.  I have definitely dated many of those.  Maybe my typos are less subliminal than I think…

Dudes say the darndest things #3

“Did I try to have sex with you last night?”

(Up)date

My prevailing feeling after my date this week is that DATING. IS. SO. AWKWARD.  Moreover, I. AM. SO. AWKWARD.  Seriously—while I am generally confident in my intelligence (at least when it comes to literature and every single episode of Dawson’s Creek; my father once had to send me talking points about current events when I had a date with a Politics major), meager humor, and ability to carry on a conversation, I am not so sure that I would want to date me.

To be fair to all parties involved, I would not say that the date was a failure.  He scored a point by bravely asking me out in a public place where a lot of other people could hear my potential acceptance/rejection.  I scored a point by getting back on the horse, so to speak, and putting myself back out in the scary, weird, and often creepy world of dating.  We both scored points by coming up with enough stuff to say to each other for an hour and a half.

My problem on dates—and let’s face it, in life in general—is not being able to get out of my own head long enough to just experience my feelings.  Instead, I feel compelled to analyze my emotions and level of attraction throughout the entire thing, such that I spend the whole time engaged in an inner monologue that goes something like this:

Me: Hmm, do I think the face he makes when he laughs is cute?

Me: Yeah, I guess it’s kind of nice.

Me: Wait, nevermind, not that nice.  Yep, I’m definitely not attracted to him at all.

Me: Well, that’s kind of an exaggeration.  I guess he is sort of good looking…

Me: But would I want to take off his clothes?

Me: Sure.  Maybe not.  I DON’T KNOW.

[end scene]

You get the picture.  It is nearly impossible for me to stay in the moment of the actual date rather than planning out what I’m going to report to my friends after the fact.  As a result, I feel kind of stiff when I’m talking to someone, and I think it makes me come off as stressed out, which is no fun for a) me or b) my date.  This time, for example, I was so wrapped up in coming up with interesting questions to ask this guy to keep our chat rolling along smoothly—and he seemed to be doing the same—that it became more of a mutual job interview than a date.  Eeep.

The only good news is that my mental babble often provides a good shorthand for how much I like someone.  Usually, if I don’t find myself questioning how I feel—or if the answers to my mental checklist of Do I find him attractive?  Am I going to say yes if he asks me out again? etc. are all an unequivocal “YES”—then I know that this person is someone I dig.

Unfortunately, it’s a fallible method.  I’ve had awful first dates followed by amazing second dates and amazing first dates followed by awful second dates.  It’s always great when the chemistry is just there, but I’m a firm believer that it can also take some time to grow in.  The question is, how much time?  How long do you wait for the dates to stop feeling awkward and start being awesome?

Comment with answers, if you’ve got ’em!

The wait for the date

In the time since my last post, two things have happened:
1. Someone asked me out.
2. I asked someone out.

I haven’t gone on a date since December, and then it was with a dude who ended up squashing my heart into a pulpy ball of sadness.  After that, I had basically arrived at the conclusion that my college dating life was over—I had given it a good run, but this was surely the end of the road.  My job now was to wish fervently that there would be eligible bachelors just dying to take me out for a drink when I move back to the East Coast (to an actual city!) this summer—maybe I could will them into existence.  However, things were looking pretty bleak.  And then, in less than 24 hours, multiple prospects magically appeared.

That always happens, doesn’t it?  Just when you think you’ve lost hope, there it is, knocking persistently at your door.

The hard part is knowing what to do with it.  Although I was initially elated to realize that Guys! Are! Still! Interested! In! Me!, nerves were not far behind.  Because I know well—and have been recently reminded—that romantic entanglements can easily and quickly go wrong, I’m hesitant to give into my excitement.  I don’t want to set myself up to be disappointed yet again.  As a result, I’ve found myself dreading having to pick out an outfit, worry about whether there’s food in my teeth, and, worst of all, that awkward moment when he tries to pay and I insist that we split the bill.  (It’s a personal policy—most of the time.)  While I can recognize that I’m acting in the name of self-preservation, it kind of takes the fun out of having a date.  It becomes this big, scary, nerve-wracking thing with disaster seeming right around the corner—rather than just a fun way to spend a few hours while getting to know someone who could turn out to be really cool.

Ironically, the other thing I find myself doing is irrationally fantasizing.  (Okay, when do I ever not do that?  But still.)  Datiquette knows what I mean when she refers to herself as “the girl who has to constantly rein in her intensity and pretend that she hasn’t planned her wedding down to the smallest details shortly after the onset of a crush [peonies, lace dress, vanilla cake].”  Even though it’s totally in conflict with my nervousness, here I am, wondering how many kids these dudes will want to have and whether or not they’ll be down to buy a house near my parents.  I’m likely (read: definitely) making them into something they’re not.  In a way, it’s like I’m already setting myself up for the disappointment I want to avoid.  It’s pretty convoluted, but it keeps happening.

Much as my friends keep telling me to relax, to go with the flow and just enjoy the ride, I can’t stop flip-flopping between these two emotions.  Is it worth it to go through all this angst just for an hour of conversation over coffee?  I guess that’s the consequence of having had your heart broken: you worry that it will break all over again, even as you yearn for the Mr. Right who will bring you back to that place where you feel deliciously vulnerable, where you feel things you never thought you could.  And that tiny sliver of possibility, the ever-intriguing maybe, is what’s keeping me here, teetering on the edge of potential nothing and potential something—for better or for worse.